ben wyvis

Mountains and munros micro adventure 3 – Inverness

Mountains and munros micro adventure 3 – Inverness.  A few days holiday had been scheduled in August for over 6 months.  The original plan had been to sail to Knoydart and attempt the three munros there on my mountain bike but the weather didn’t look good for an open bivvy on the mountain.  Alternative plans swung into motion and the target shifted to Inverness and two single munros in Ben Wyvis and Am Faochagach.

I selected these two in particular as they are fairly short days, ideal for a long drive and my dog Shadow.  With an overnight stay required, I decided to go with camping in the car to avoid the misery of the midge and have all my supplies close at hand.

With day starting to break it was time to get the car loaded and head off on another micro adventure.  I drove up the A9 just after rush hour enjoying relatively clear roads.  Arriving in Inverness around lunch time, I stopped at my usual supermarket for last minute supplies and to re-fuel.  Fully stocked up I travelled the last couple of miles up the A835 to the car park at Ben Wyvis and the first munro of my trip.

On the Ben

Ben Wyvis would make an ideal first munro for those further north.  It has an excellent path the majority of the way up and a very gradual ascent.  With a distance of around 14km it should take around 4 to 5 hours at a reasonable pace and on a clear day you will enjoy views across large land masses to Torridon.

The walk begins from the car park over well made pathways.  I followed this running parallel with the river and through the forest, enjoying the very pleasant surroundings.  After almost a 4 hour drive the gentle climb to the foot of the mountain eased me in nicely, warming up my legs for later.  You can see the quality of the path in my first image, I think it would be possible to mountain bike the entire route if you were so inclined.  Below is one of Shadow making the most of the good weather.

After reaching the foot of the Ben we continued to follow the zig zag path up the shoulder of the mountain.  Due to the excellent construction of the path the ascent was gradual and would suit a variety of ability levels.

Several kilometres later we reached the top at An Cabar at 946m.  With the hard work out of the way, we took our time crossing the final few kilometres over largely flat grass ridges to the summit of Ben Wyvis (or awesome mountain) at 1046m.  Our picture below is taken using the trig point as a tripod looking out to the views beyond.

Due to the later starting time it was around 4pm so we stopped for some early dinner on the summit.  If you want to find out what food and drinks I carry to keep my energy levels high go here.

With all of our food consumed and Shadow a happy dog we retraced our steps back to the car.  As I mentioned earlier, I would be sleeping there tonight rather than the tent to avoid the midge.  Here is a picture of my accommodation for the evening and bunk buddy.

Hills and helicopters

Waking up around 7am after a fairly decent nights sleep, I was ready for another munro.  The choice to car camp had been an excellent decision as we had witnessed all four elements of the weather overnight (including hail stones) and the midge could not get near us.  All that was left to do was a quick breakfast and then drive the remaining 10 miles over to a small Met Office weather station and the start of the route to Am Faochagach.

Although a similar distance to Ben Wyvis, Am Faochagach requires a bit more effort to get to.  The main reason for this is the river (Abhainn a’Ghrabainn) blocking any easy access to the mountain.  This river must be crossed if you want to get to the summit, for tips on how to cross safely read my article here.

The walk begins just off the A835 and involves crossing very boggy moorland all the way to the river.  Around 1km later you will need to make the decision on how best to cross.  I opted for the more direct approach of getting my feet wet and forged across with water up to my knees, while Shadow had the luxury of swimming and having the time of his life.

With the river out of the way and my feet now truly soaking we pressed on across more boggy moors to reach the foot of the mountain.  There are relatively clear ATV tracks that mark the route, just be careful not to slip head first into the mud.  Shadow of course loved every minute of this type of ground with plenty of heather to poke his nose in and generally get covered in ‘stuff’.

The terrain continues in a similar way, with grassy muddy slopes, to reach a high point marked with a cairn at 844m.  Views here are good towards Beinn Dearg and you will get good ideas for future adventures.

With the high ground reached we were able to follow the drier top of the dome shaped hill and leave the bog behind.  Only a couple of kilometres were left to reach the summit and barely 100m of ascent, we could relax and enjoy the excellent visibility surrounding us.  Just over two hours from leaving the car we reached the summit of Am Faochagach standing at 953m.

It was now time to make the return trip back to the car after not seeing a single person all day and begin the long drive home.  Another two hours later we arrived back at the car with wet (another river crossing!) and weary legs after two days of munro walking.  Just as I had finished getting Shadow settled in the car, there was huge roar in the sky.  I was greeted with the amazing sights and sounds of a Chinook helicopter flying barely 30ft above my head.  What a way to end our adventure in the Scottish highlands!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my munro micro adventure. To check out guides for Inverness head over to Amazon here.  Have you had a great adventure in the mountains? I would love to hear about it in the comments.